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Disability Studies at Yale: Special Collections and Archives

A research guide for disability resources

Featured Resource

Twice a Patriot! is the title of the poster.  Shows an African American World War 2 veteran missing an arm, now a welder.

Yale's Medical Historical Library has nearly 10,000 prints, posters and drawings.  Contact Melissa Grafe for more information:

If you are interested in how disability is represented visually, try these links:

Yale Online Exhibition Spotlight: Deaf: Cultures and Communication, 1600 to the Present

DEAF spelled out in sign language, the banner for the online exhibition

Special collections at Yale

Yale has a wealth of interesting collections.  If you want to look at the papers of individuals or groups involved in, use Orbis or the Archives at Yale for detailed lists of these collections.  The list below is by no means exhaustive!

Manuscripts and Archives has a guide on medical archives owned by Yale: Contemporary Medical Care and Health Policy.

Other great materials open for research throughout our collections include:

  • Robert Bogdan Disability Collection: The collection, with material from the 1820s-1990s, contains real photo postcards, commercial postcards, photographs, pamphlets and ephemera related to people with disabilities, mostly from the United States, collected by Professor Robert Bogdan, a pioneer in the teaching of disability studies.
              -See also the Robert Bogdan international collection on disability, healthcare, and body modification, which consists of five binders of materials related to people with disabilities, healthcare practices, and body modification in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
  • Laurent Clerc papers consist of correspondence relating to the founding of the American School for the Deaf and Dumb in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817 by Laurent Clerc at the invitation of Thomas H. Gallaudet. Included also is a diary in English kept by Clerc during his voyage to the United States from France (1816) together with transcriptions of newspaper accounts of his first address in the United States, newspaper clippings, legal and financial documents, student papers, and memorabilia. There are a few family and personal papers and autobiographical notes by Clerc (1857-1869). Principal correspondents are John Louis Cheverus, Thomas H. Gallaudet, Abbé Sicard, and Roberts Vaux.
  • Ledger and sketchbook of F.H. Cross, an orthopedic appliance maker, 1884-1888. F. H. Cross was born in Richland, Oswego County, New York where he remained for most of his life. He enlisted in the army in 1862 and served in the Civil War. In the 1880s his address was listed as Pulaski, New York, a nearby town north of Syracuse. Cross designed and crafted made-to-order prosthetics and braces mainly for the legs of his patients. He was known as an excellent and highly innovative "surgical appliance maker." He had an office for patients and also traveled as to meet and measure patients.  The volume described prosthetics Cross designed and made from 1885 to 1887. Among the 28 named patients, 16 were children. The oldest patient was 49. The entries supply the patients' names, addresses, and their medical history related to their physical difficulty (club foot, inflamed knee joint, bowed legs, uneven legs, poliomyelitis, weak ankles and knees, "spinal derangement," etc.) The volume contains Cross's scale diagrams of the apparatus that he crafted. He provided the measurements of each piece and how the pieces fit together.
  • Isidore Falk papers consist of correspondence, professional files, research materials, writings, personal papers, and printed matter documenting Isidore Falk's career as an advocate of national health insurance and other programs related to public health. Of particular significance are the materials from his years with the Social Security Board (1936-1954), which document the campaign for government supported health insurance in the United States.  Falk heavily advocated for disability insurance.
  • Family Counseling of Greater New Haven records document the administrative history of a local social welfare agency from 1881 to 2000. The records consist largely of annual reports and minute records of the board of directors, other sub-committee minute records and reports, financial, fund raising records, correspondence, case files, newsletters, New Haven Register column "What's Your Problem?," scrapbooks, photographs and slides. In the late 1960s, FSNH worked collaboratively with Community Progress, Inc. to provide mental health services to New Haven as well as other communities in the state. FSNH received a number of inquiries from local cities to establish branch offices to meet the growing demand for mental health services. In the 1970s, the board of directors received funding from Orange, Guilford, and Madison, which led to the formation of branch offices in these towns. New programs aimed at youth services, parenting, child abuse, crisis intervention, and rehabilitation for developmentally disabled adults were added and the FCGNH became a licensed psychiatric clinic.
  • The records of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), a nonprofit legal organization dedicated to defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and people with HIV, primarily in New England. The collection primarily consists of correspondence, topical files, reports, meeting minutes, legal research, litigation and amicus files, publications, volunteer and training manuals, and newspaper clippings created or maintained by GLAD.  Some of GLAD's notable cases include Doe v. McNiff (1978); Babets v. Johnston (1985), which addressed the right of same-sex couples to become foster parents; Bragdon v. Abbott (1995), which established that people living with HIV/AIDS are protected under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The case originated in Bangor, Maine in 1994, when dentist Randon Bragdon refused to treat Sidney Abbott at his practice after Abbott disclosed that she was HIV positive. GLAD filed suit on Abbott's behalf in federal district court in Maine in 1995, asserting that Abbott's HIV positive status qualified as a disability, and that Bragdon's refusal of service qualified as discrimination under the ADA.
  • Amy L. Lettick papers consists of correspondence, journals and diaries, audio and video tapes, films, and publications relating to the development and care of an autistic child and the founding of the Benhaven school.
  • Ved Mehta, Indian-American author of novels, family biographies, and essays, was born in 1934 in Lahore (then an Indian city, now part of Pakistan). Blind since childhood, he attended boarding schools in India and in the United States. He continued his education at Pomona College and Harvard University, eventually becoming an American citizen. Among his many writings are A Portrait of India (1970), the series of family biographies Continents of Exile (1972-1993), and the collected essays Fly and the Fly-Bottle (1966) and A Ved Mehta Reader: The Craft of the Essay (1998). He was a staff writer at The New Yorker from 1961 to 1994. Subject files and correspondence relate not only to Mehta's life and work, but also to his family, to acquaintances such as Ethel Clyde, and to organizations such as the Arkansas School for the Blind, Pomona College, and Oxford University.
  • Grover Francis Powers was born in Colfax, Indiana, in 1887. He graduated from Purdue University in 1908 and from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1913. Following graduation, Powers remained in Baltimore, Maryland, as a resident pediatrician. In 1921, he was invited to the Yale University School of Medicine, where he would remain until his retirement in 1952. Between 1927 and 1952, he served as chairman of the department of pediatrics. Powers was instrumental in the foundation of the Southbury Training School for mentally challenged children. He also served as president of the American Pediatric Society and as chairman of the scientific advisory board of the National Association of Retarded Children. Powers was one of the first to propose humane treatment of the mentally challenged. He died on April 18, 1967.
  • Ron Whyte papers: An American playwright and book review editor for the Soho Weekly News, Whyte (circa 1942-1989) was the author of the plays Welcome to Andromeda (1969) and Disability: A Comedy (1978), and the executive director of the National Task Force for Disability and the Arts, 1977-1980. The papers consist of correspondence, writings, printed material, photographs, audiovisual material, and personal papers that document the life and work of playwright, editor, and activist Ron Whyte, including his advocacy for people with disabilities.
  • Yale Child Study Center reference collection consists of short published works on topics related to child welfare used by Arnold Gesell and the staff of the Yale Child Study Center as a reference collection. Topics include children and the war, day care centers (day nurseries), education, infant mortality, juvenile delinquency, intellectual disability (mental deficiency), mental health (mental hygiene), mental illness (insanity), nurseries, and nutrition.